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RA Board Member Asks for Community Q-and-A Session on Lake House Review

by Dave Emke — March 6, 2017 at 2:45 pm 27 Comments

Sherri Hebert/Credit: RAThe independent review of Reston Association’s purchase and renovation of the Lake House provided 15 recommendations for the Board of Directors, but at least one director says the community deserves more.

Director Sherri Hebert (Lake Anne/Tall Oaks District) says she has been fielding “many calls and emails” from residents since the review came out Wednesday, asking what the next step in the ongoing process is going to be.

“[They’re asking] ‘What are you guys going to do? Are you going to sweep this under the rug?'” Hebert said. “There are a lot of questions still from a lot of the community members.”

A public meeting is scheduled for March 14 for the Reston Association board to “review the report and hear comments on the suggested improvements,” according to a news release. In a Friday email to fellow board members, candidates in the 2017 election and community advocates, Hebert explained what she would like to see happen at that or another special meeting in the near future.

“I strongly suggest, and maybe it is already set up this way, that the meeting on the 14th be a Q&A with the public, StoneTurn and the Board. By Q&A, I mean that the public can ask questions of either StoneTurn or Board members about the findings in the report. It would be great if former Board members attended as well. A good old fashion public meeting of give-and-take. Short of giving the public an opportunity to express their views and ask questions, we will be handling individual requests one at a time (not very efficient). If this can’t be done on the 14th, another session needs to be scheduled prior to any decisions of the Board.”

When contacted by Reston Now for further comment, Hebert said she believes the findings in StoneTurn’s report to be valuable; however, she said more needs to be done to regain the community’s trust in the board.

“There needs to be some accountability — somebody or some group of people needs to stand up and say, ‘You know what, I messed up on that, I made a mistake,'” she said. “Until that happens, I’m not sure we’re ever going to be able to move on.”

Hebert was elected to the board in 2016, after the controversial Lake House purchase and subsequent cost overrun had occurred.

The director also said she wants to see any decisions regarding the next steps in the Lake House process be handled by the incoming board. The nine-member board will have four new faces in April, after the election.

“That’s a huge shift in the board, and whoever ends up winning needs to be a part of these discussions,” she said.

Hebert said discussions about how a question-and-answer session with the community would be handled are in their early stages.

“Hopefully, I can meet with some of my peers this week and find out what we’re going to do on the 14th,” she said. “And if not the 14th, then when?”

  • Dennis Hays

    Director Hebert’s call for an open Q&A session on the StoneTurn report is an excellent initiative and exactly the kind of responsive and transparent move the RA Board should – but doesn’t – do on a regular basis. The Tetra report, for which we paid up to $45,000, answers almost none of the questions StoneTurn was asked to look into at the recent community forum. It is imperative RA regain the trust of its members. A full examination of the Tetra fiasco would be a good start.

  • Donald

    Ms. Herbert, good luck, and I hope you are working closely with your fellow board members.

    Since you have decided to come into the public fray for Q&A, I’d like to ask you a question (or two).

    What is the status of the Hidden Creek Country Club? How is the property zoned? What are the development possibilities if the property is sold? Most importantly, is it a part of Reston Association, subject to the RA Deed? Is it a part of the Reston Transportation Area?

    I ask, as HCCC is in your District, and there is continued pressure on our open spaces, as recently noted in RestonNow regarding Reston National. The loss of the open space at HCCC would be detrimental.

    I look forward to your response on this forum. As you say, this would be a great place for a good old fashioned public meeting give-and-take.

    Thank you,
    Donald

    • Chuck

      Well I don’t think she posted this, it’s just an article about her wanted to do a q and a. This was about the lake house not hidden creek

      • Donald

        I believe she allowed the article to be written. And I believe my question is just as important as those focused on the lake house, if not more so.

        • Chuck

          Oh cool I didn’t realize she did and I was just making sure you weren’t confused becuse the article was about a q and a for the lake house but you asked about hidden creek, no worries. Have a nice day!

        • cRAzy

          DIdn’t know she had the authority to “allow” it. Wow, now I am very worried about the RA Board!

          • Donald

            Well, for all the hype about having a good old fashioned dialogue, she appears unwilling to post an answer. Her story above is no better than the “open” letter sponsored by Boston Properties. Too bad.

          • Chuck

            This wasn’t an open letter just a new report. Shes wasn’t going to answer questions here.

          • Donald

            Why then, did she share her email with RestonNow?

            The nature of her message – having good dialogues with the Community – is something she wanted the Community to hear via RestonNow. She has to know comments come along with the action taken.

            I assumed she would jump in, given the enthusiasm she shared. Hence, an opportunity to ask a couple questions that have concerned me for some time regarding HCCC.

            As I said, to have her email posted to the public without participation and involvement smells of the Boston Properties letter in RestonNow.

          • Donald

            And for any of the candidates reading this. What are your thoughts regarding HCCC? Do you know how it is zoned? Is it a part of RA? If you join the board, will you dedicate RA resources to defend and to fight to keep it open space?

          • Chuck

            Seriously? A reporter asked her questions and then that reporter wrote a news article about it

          • Donald

            Well, you’re right. She apparently only communicates via email to a select few – “… to fellow board members, candidates in the 2017 election and community advocates…”

            Thought she was a groundbreaker. I hope she actually does step up and sets the bar, versus just talking about it to a reporter. The rest of us would welcome a good old fashioned “give-and-take.”

          • John Higgins

            Your call for interaction with RA members is not unreasonable. I think your context is wrong. The board was setting up a specific meeting, Ms. Hebert’s response (subject of this reporting) was to those on the original email.

            We’ve heard that RA plans to resume periodic district meetings (town hall style). There’s the give-and-take you mention, and it’s a good idea. Maybe. When held in the past, they were poorly attended. In my view, RA needs a much more effective tool. If you or anyone have recommendations, share them with the board.

            Unless you have info about HCCC no one else has, I think you can rest easy. Info on their property is available on the county’s website (map no. 0172 24 0001). It is designated as Open Space (golf course) in the PRC. Unlike RNCC, HCCC has members who have a stake and equity in how the property is used. Any proposal for change will be known long before the club contemplates the massive effort to change the Reston Master Plan.

          • Donald

            Thanks John. I do beleive Ms. Herbert could set the direction, if she so desired. I’ve seen her in the board meetings, she is very outspoken, saying all the right things we want to hear. But, I’ve never seen her, or others, willing to do the “give-and- take” as she espouses.

            Regarding HCCC, I see some of the same things you do. But, as Mr. Maynard has pointed out, with the advent of the Revised Master Plan, TSAs, and the county’s new Reston Rapid Economic Development initiatives, I believe HCCC is vulnerable. It’s close to, if not encroaching, into a TSA and an Economic Development area.

            The owner could conceivably have a very profitable reason to make things happen with a savvy developer.

          • Donald

            Well. What a shame. She apparently only communicates via email to a select few – “… to fellow board members, candidates in the 2017 election and community advocates…”

            Thought she was a groundbreaker. I hope she actually does step up and sets the bar, versus just talking about it to a reporter. The rest of us would welcome a good old fashioned “give-and-take.”

          • Reston2000

            Sorry but this is just a ridiculous post. To compare a Board member – who is pushing for greater dialogue and transparency and accountability in response to residents’ concerns – to Boston Properties who just screwed us over with parking costs, is ridiculous. Apples and oranges. NO apples and potatoes. Not even comparable. smh

    • Reston2000

      So you want to take this thread on whether or not there should be a Q&A on the Lake House and turn it into a thread on Hidden Creek? Why not just write a letter to the editor and allow the conversation to flow from there?

  • ChangeAgent

    Thanks very much for speaking up and trying to open the RA process. Keep up your good work!

  • Moon Lotus

    I think its incorrect to assume that a board member would respond to questions posted on this thread.for one, that board member would make herself/himself personally liable if the incorrect answer was given, the board should speak with one voice if at all.

    Secondly. Our heroic efforts by Ms Hebert are accentuated by raising this opportunity to ALL RA members, not only those with an internet connection.

    I am looking forward to the opportunity to raise my questions at that time, when the board moves forward with this townhall. And they should, given the democratic nature of our local government and its mandate to serve the paying electorate.

    Thank you,

    • Donald

      I’m sorry, she was obviously interviewed by Reston Now, and she took full advantage of the opportunity.

      Moon, she stepped into this dialogue on RestonNow, with or without the board’s permission. By not following through, she’s no different than the other opportunity seekers on the board.

      • Moon Lotus

        Incorrect, please read again:

        …”In a Friday email to fellow board members, candidates in the 2017 election and community advocates, Hebert explained what she would like to see happen at that or another special meeting in the near future.”

        So, it appears the email appeared to be the basis for follow up by the press; not that she was interviewed for this specifically. But then again, I only go by whats written by the article…

        Anyways, I hope you can support that format and also, would like to see you there and others – to make a difference. Thanks you,

        • Donald

          I’ll be there. But, unfortunately, there will be zero opportunity to have my concerns addressed. And I believe the rest of the community, especially those property owners affected by HCCC, should be pursuing this as well. Sad.

          • Moon Lotus

            I think we should give the new board a chance to set a new path, on the off chance I am wrong but I am also a sceptic like you.

            I can think of three board members who should have stepped down, including additional ones – for example those that promoted the $45k StoneCold report. Shameful.

            Donald, again I appreciate you for sharing your concerns.

          • Donald

            The present board, and the candidates as well, appear to care less about my concerns. Even Rescue Reston has not commented on this. I guess, once again, we’ll just go into reaction-mode versus being prepared.

          • Oscar

            Here’s the thing Donny we are talking about the Lake House here and you are talking about something that’s not the Lake House

          • Donald

            That’s fine Oscar, please do. I’m not saying anything to preclude from doing so, no?

      • Reston2000

        I, for one, appreciate the fact that she broke rank with the traditional Board approach to hide discussions and decisions in Executive Session.

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